Juju buoyed by associates’ acquittal

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IOL jan 29 malema Independent Newspapers Julius Malema File photo: Motshwari Mofokeng

Johannesburg - The corruption case against Julius Malema’s business associates relating to the On-Point Engineering company’s controversial activity was dismissed in the Mokopane Regional Court on Wednesday.

Selbie Manthata, his wife Helen Moreroa and his brother Makgetsi were acquitted. They were first arrested and charged together with Malema in September 2012.

Their detention followed Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into the “unlawful” R52 million tender awarded to On-Point by the Limpopo Roads and Transport Department.

Madonsela had found that the company misrepresented facts to win the contract.

Malema, On-Point directors Lesiba Gwangwa and Kagisho Dichabe and the Manthata family were charged with corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering.

The Mokopane Regional Court dismissed the case against the Manthatas after they applied for acquittal in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Their lawyer, Isaac Raphele, said: “The court dismissed the case on the basis that the evidence presented by the State could not sustain the charges.

“Therefore, there was nothing for the accused to answer to. We told their witnesses in court that they were hired guns, not professional witnesses,” he said.

“My clients are relieved the case is over,” he added.

Asked if the State would appeal against the ruling, National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Nathi Mncube said: “You must have grounds to appeal. We will have to go through the records first.”

But Mncube said on Wednesday’s acquittal meant nothing for Malema’s case. “There is no connection and therefore there is no impact whatsoever.”

Buoyed by the ruling, Malema reiterated his call for the NPA to drop the charges against him. “I have already said this is a political case. The more they proceed with it, the more they are going to get exposed,” he said.

The NPA has rejected Malema’s claims of political interference in his case.

Malema rejected Mncube’s assertion that Wednesday’s court ruling had no connection with his case. “It’s a lie because Selbie was charged for depositing the R1m that later bought the farm (with which) they said he had bribed me,” Malema said.

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